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Hyperemesis Gravidarum

I asked one of my frequent writers to share her story on HG, being that it is all over social media due to Kate Middleton‘s current Hospitalization. We had a discussion about this on the forum (see thread here) when someone posted “The View”‘s reaction to Kate’s news (see below), which was disgraceful to say the least. It occurred to me that too many women are simply unaware as to what HG is, and this is a good opportunity to raise awareness. Please share this with your lady friends.

Hyperemesis Gravidarum. A.K.A. Puking your guts out while pregnant.

For those of you that don’t know what HG is, I envy you. What it is: Although 90% of women suffer some amount of morning sickness, HG only affects around 1 in 200 women. Symptoms include severe nausea and vomiting, food aversions, significant weight loss, dehydration, fainting, and malnutrition. It is serious, and without the proper care, can result in life threatening complications to both mother and baby. This is Morning Sickness vs. Hyperemesis Gravidarum.

Morning Sickness:

  • You lose little if any weight.
  • Nausea and vomiting do not interfere with your ability to eat or drink enough each day.
  • You vomit infrequently and the nausea is episodic but not severe. It may cause discomfort and misery.
  • Dietary and/or lifestyle changes are enough to help you feel better most of the time.
  • Typically, you will improve after the first trimester at a gradual pace but may be a little queasy at times during the remainder of your pregnancy.
  • You will be able to work most days and care for your family.

Hyperemesis Gravidarum:

  • You lose more than 5% of your body weight.
  • Nausea and vomiting cause you to eat nothing or very little and causes dehydration.
  • You vomit often and may vomit bile or blood if not treated. Nausea is usually moderate to severe and constant.
  • You will probably require fluid hydration through a vein and/or medications to stop the vomiting.
  • You usually feel somewhat better by mid-pregnancy, but you may continue to be nauseous and/or vomit until late pregnancy.
  • You will likely be unable to work for weeks or months, and may need help caring for yourself.

My story, pregnancy #1: Husband and I find out I am pregnant; we are thrilled like any clueless first time parents are. I feel great, and I naively think I will love being pregnant, just like my mother. It shouldn’t be surprising, my mother and I are nothing alike, but I get sick at 8 weeks pregnant.

The first 3 months are spent with my head in the toilet. I throw up an average of 30-40 times a day. Occasionally, I don’t throw up at all, and that results in me momentarily blacking out. I lie in bed all day, fantasize about taking a shower standing up.

I don’t cook supper, and I don’t let my husband cook supper. The smell of the sun gets me sick, my husband tries smelling it and can’t. We go on vacation when I’m five months pregnant and I black out after standing out in the heat for ten minutes. I sit under a tree while my husband gets me water, and a bunch of people are staring at me. I laugh, thinking it’s no big deal, this happens all the time, but it hits me: This is not normal.

Baby is monitored constantly throughout the pregnancy, baby is growing well. At nine months pregnant, I weigh less than I did at my wedding. After a long labor, I give birth to a huge, healthy baby. A little while later, I eat a peanut butter sandwich, followed by meatballs and spaghetti.

Pregnancy #2: My mind tricks me into thinking I can handle a second HG pregnancy. Once again, we are thrilled and clueless like any second time parents. I get sick sooner this time, at 6 weeks, and it is more severe. My vision of a normal pregnancy is gone, and is replaced with the reality of popping 25 pills a day.

This time, the sun does not have a smell, but water does. Husband does not agree. I don’t drive, I don’t bathe my son. I don’t cook, clean, or work. I rarely leave the house and I often make my husband skip work to stay home and help me do absolutely nothing.

I am unable to physically care for my son, so I send him to daycare, and it breaks my heart. Its déjà-vu this time, so I do not freak out when I black out. The pills work, I do not throw up so much. Instead, when I do, it is very sudden so I throw up on my bed, in the sink and on the floor, unable to make it to the toilet. Pros: We finally have a reason to dry clean our blankets.

I am now a little over five months pregnant. I am over the worst, but still going through it. I throw up once in a while usually accompanied by a brief black out. Based on my first pregnancy, I will most likely feel this way until I give birth. I cannot wait until my babies are older so I can tell them what I went through and make them feel bad. Just kidding, I would never do that.

I am lucky. I never stayed overnight at a hospital and managed to avoid an IV. My story is not one the really bad ones, you don’t want to read those, they are crazy. Kate Middleton is pregnant, and I can definitely relate to what she is going through. I feel reassured that HG will finally get the awareness it needs so people stop telling me, “Just try ginger, it helps wonders with nausea.”

Here is a great article that explains HG along with the authors personal story, and a funny, but useful guide for husbands of women suffering from HG. I know I’m not alone in wanting to raise awareness, Ashli Foshee McCall just published her story on the “Washington Post”. She is the author of the children’s book, “Mama Has Hyperemesis Gravidarum (But Only For A While)”.